Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST)

New NIH FIRST Funding Opportunity: RFA-RM- 21-025

Multi-colored arrows intermingling and pointing up diagonally representing diversity, opportunity and growth

The FIRST program is a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Common Fund initiative to create cultures of inclusive excellence at NIH-funded institutions by:

  • Implementing a set of well-integrated, evidence-based strategies.
  • Evaluating their impact on prespecified metrics of institutional culture, inclusion, and diversity.

The NIH Common Fund Announces a New FY22 Funding Opportunity

Implementing and sustaining cultures of inclusive excellence has the potential to be transformational for biomedical research at awardee institutions and beyond.

This RFA aims to facilitate institutions in their building of a community of scientists, through recruitment and support of a cohort of early-career faculty who have a demonstrated commitment to inclusive excellence. All biomedical research areas within the NIH mission are included in this funding announcement.

RFA-RM-21-025: FIRST Cohort

  • This is the second issuance of a FIRST cohort RFA. Only one more re-issuance is expected. The program is expected to fund a total of 12 cohort awards, pending available funds.
  • Technical assistance webinars were held in January 2021 to describe the overall program and clarify expectations for FY21 Funding Opportunities (FIRST Cohort, RFA-20-022, and FIRST CEC, RFA-20-023). Access the recording and slide deck for more information.
  • FAQs are now updated specifically for RFA 21-025.

FIRST Program Components

  1. FIRST Cohort - funding administered by the National Cancer Institute (NCI)
  2. FIRST Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC) - funding administered by NIMHD

Program Goals

  • Foster sustainable institutional culture change
  • Promote institutional inclusive excellence by hiring a diverse cohort of new faculty
  • Support faculty development, mentoring, sponsorship and promotion

“This program, if successful, will help foster research environments attractive to underrepresented scientists, who can leverage their diverse perspectives and create relevant research to advance knowledge and discovery in their fields and reduce health disparities. Diversity in the biomedical research workforce promotes innovation, leads to better science, and creates opportunities to make significant progress toward health equity.”

NIMHD Director, Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.


The FIRST program is funded through the NIH Common Fund and managed collaboratively by:

  • NCI
  • Scientific Workforce Diversity Office
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
  • Office of Extramural Research

Page updated July 22, 2021